More images — less paper – a MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, October 14, 2016
Evidently, I’m similar to nearly half of every other American adult when it comes to admiring beautiful, fun, and engaging photos. I admit this even as I assiduously avoid counting myself as being representative of any entire market. As a long-time researcher, I choose to share my findings and opinions about tech customer demand and market dynamics based on the voices of thousands of survey respondents.
There’s something connecting and real about sharing photos. More than half (56%) of adults with a connected device share photos online and almost half (47%) share in person. Images tell a story, share feelings and experiences, and connect us. The use of digital images has grown explosively to be central to the everyday connected life.
Those images aren’t coming from traditional cameras, though. For the majority that seeks convenience, having one device do something passably well is better than carrying many specialized gadgets. Purists can argue about superior photo quality taken with a camera intended to be a real camera. That misses the point for most of the market. Having any camera handy at that special moment is better than having the perfect camera after it’s over.
Smartphones have been fueling much of the photo explosion, being the choice for over two-thirds (69%) of connected adults. Tablets haven’t contributed as much to the photo stream – with only one-sixth (17%) of adults regularly using one to take photos. In many circles, bringing out a tablet to take photos is considered a bit invasive, impolite or a little too geeky. This sort of social friction is par for the course among early adopters.
Despite the expanding breadth of photo-taking, overall printer penetration isn’t growing. The number of printers in active use hasn’t budged materially in years. Our MetaFacts TUP 2013 survey found that 12% of connected adults didn’t use a printer. As of TUP 2016, 13% still don’t actively use a printer. You might think that statistic would shift among the busiest printer users. However, that’s been stable, too. Adults printing 50 or more pages per month were 29% of connected adults in 2011 and are near to the same size five years later, representing 27% in 2016.
To profile the most-attractive printer users, I explored three dimensions with a deeper dive into the TUP datasets.
- High-Volume: The busiest users – those who print the most pages
- Most-Graphical: The strongest relevant demand – the most-graphical users as evidenced by being in the top third of users in the number of graphics and image-oriented activities they regularly do with their collection of connected devices
- Mobile Printing: Those who print on the go, using their mobile device to wirelessly print
These high-volume printers skew towards users with larger, higher-income households with children. Age 25-44 are strongest, as are Employed and Self-Employed. They are more likely than average to be regularly using 2 or more printers.
Among the most-graphical users, printer penetration is higher than among average connected adults. The most-graphical are 50% more likely than average to be using a 2nd printer, and 86% more likely to be using a 3rd printer. Also, more than a third (36%) of these most-graphical print 50+ pages each month.
Also, printing photos is much more common among the most-graphical than the average user. Among these most-graphical, printing photos is the second-ranked printing activity, done occasionally by 44% of these users, well above the 33% of average users doing so. The most-graphical also have a higher penetration of printer use – 94%.
These most-graphical include a higher than average share of Millennials, making up 56% of their numbers. They are also more likely to have children, with 58% doing so.
Mobile printing has been possible for some time, although actual adoption has been relatively slow. Less than a third (31%) of those with tablets print wirelessly to a nearby printer, 17% to a remote printer using email, and 15% using an online service. Smartphone printing is lower, with one-sixth (17%) of Smartphone users printing wirelessly to a nearby printer, 11% to a remote printer using email, and 10% using an online service.
Looking ahead, we expect the major printer manufacturers to continue to focus on one, if not all, of these market segments. The convenience-oriented will be served by automated ink replacement, such as HP’s Instant Ink subscription service. Currently, less than a third (29%) of the highest-volume printer use this type of service.
Our research supports photo-taking activities continuing strongly and broadly into the future. Smartphone cameras will only get better and users will continue to be increasingly comfortable with selfies, scans, and group photos. However, this increase in demand won’t necessarily increase printing levels, at least among the overall market. I expect consumer’s need to share photos which are first printed to continue their decline, with continued innovation in social networking. Also, as a broader range of users get comfortable using their devices, more users will join the mass shift towards sharing photos on screens instead of paper. The need for archival printing of precious documents such as heirloom photos will be reduced with the further adoption of cloud file storage. In addition, the TUP research supports continued growth in the number of users finding other ways to share photos in person, with broader adoption of the connections between Smartphone and larger screens from tablets to TVs.
Yes, you too can expect to see more kittens, rainbows, food porn, and cute grandkids. We might as well get our popcorn ready!
About this TUPdate
This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). Trend information is based on prior waves. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.
Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.